Infant and Childhood Vaccination Information Program Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Child Health, Healthcare, Vaccinations/Immunizations, Education, Parenting
Feb. 2, 2021

“The purpose of this notice of funding opportunity is to investigate the acceptability, feasibility, and effectiveness of promoting infant immunization during prenatal care visits, leading parents to vaccinate their children confidently. Prenatal care providers, including obstetricians and midwives, are trusted sources of information for pregnant women, yet many feel uncomfortable providing information or discussing concerns about infant vaccination because they may consider this to be outside of their area of expertise. This represents a significant missed opportunity to provide important information to pregnant women/parents from a trusted source at a critical time when research suggests opinions about childhood vaccination are forming.”

Funder: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, nonprofits that do not have a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, public and state controlled institutions of higher education, county governments, city or township governments, state governments, special district governments, independent school districts, public housing authorities/Indian housing authorities, Native American tribal organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments), others.
$300,000 – $500,000

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Bring Back Black Girls Before They’re Herded Into Foster Care, Justice System

OPINION 2020.11.11. Black Girls OllyySHTTRFEATx1000

Black girls: Desperate black girl puts her hands in her hairOLLYY/SHUTTERSTOCK

The #SayHerName movement that was launched in 2014 by the African American Policy Forum and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies has gained immense momentum amid a number of nationally recognized murders of Black women at the hands of police. A goal of the campaign is to bring to light the oft overlooked stories of Black women and girls who have needlessly and unjustifiably perished in their encounters with law enforcement. 

#SayHerName is an important, overdue and necessary movement. It is a vigil for Black women and girls who have fatal interactions with the legal system and is crucial to honoring those lost and to educating society on the all too common, yet underacknowledged, realities of being a Black female in America.

While we recognize the importance of #SayHerName, we want to shed light on a population of Black girls who are entangled in America’s custodial systems and seemingly missing in plain sight. These girls are placed under the control of institutions that were avowedly designed to protect and/or rehabilitate young people but that often do just the opposite and, in turn, create a new population of victims. 

These systems have the capacity to inflict irreparable physical and psychological harm, which in some instances has led to the untimely deaths of Black girls. The trajectories of many who become involved with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems are bleak and their likelihood of victimization immense. In spite of this, Black girls and their families are largely ignored when they decry these systems.

In recent years, celebrities have utilized social media to increase public awareness of cases like Cyntoia Brown’s that exemplify the injustices to which Black girls are subject. Additionally, activists and scholars such as Monique Morris have raised our consciousness about the disparate experiences of Black girls in educational settings, which often leads to their involvement in legal systems. 

Despite their valiance, these efforts are typically isolated and reach only niche audiences. The unfortunate reality is that there exist many other Cyntoia Browns who have not received national or even local recognition and who remain enmeshed in legal institutions. These systems expose our society’s lack of investment in supporting, understanding and attending to the needs of Black girls. 

It’s time we give them the attention they deserve.

Before it’s too late, let’s say their names and bring back the Black girls who are pushed and dragged out of our schools. According to the 2015-2016 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), white girls and Black girls represented 49% and 16% of the female student population, respectively. Despite the relatively low prevalence of Black girls in schools, 47% of all girls who received at least one out-of-school suspension were Black. 

In fact, Black girls were five times more likely to experience out-of-school suspension than white girls. Furthermore, Black female students were more than three times as likely to be expelled than white females in the 2015-16 school year. Likewise, the school-based arrest rate among Black girls was triple that of their white counterparts.

Non-heterosexual girls more likely to be suspended, expelled

These numbers are reflected across Black and white female students with disabilities as well, despite federal protections under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. By the same token, students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning (LGBQ) and transgender or gender nonconforming (TGNC) are also highly susceptible to out-of-school discipline, though federal research and national data on the disciplinary experiences of these students is sorely lacking. Additionally, youth in foster care are suspended and expelled at higher volumes than their non-foster care-involved peers. 

Black girls: Alexandra Miller (headshot), program manager with the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, smiling woman with long light brown hair, blue sweater

Alexandra Miller

Black girls with disabilities who identify as LGBTQ or TGNC and/or who are in foster care are thereby even more likely to experience suspension, expulsion and arrest than other Black girls and are exponentially more likely to face out-of-school discipline than their white peers. These discipline rates send a clear message to all Black girls that they are unwelcome in schools and it places them in grave jeopardy for dropping out of school and into the legal system.

Let’s bring back the Black girls who are unnecessarily pulled out of their homes and placed into the foster care system. In 2018, Black children represented 23% of youth in foster care and 14% of the general youth population. Research has shown that racial disparities exist at various decision points within the child welfare system. These studies overwhelmingly demonstrate that Black families are more likely to have abuse reported, investigated and substantiated than white families. Relatedly, Black children are more likely to be placed in care and remain in care for longer periods of time than white children and are less likely to reunite with their families. 

While there has been a tremendous amount of research on racial and ethnic disproportionality in child welfare, the research falls short as it relates to racial gender variances. In their analysis of data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) and CRDC, the National Women’s Law Center determined that of 189,113 girls in the foster care system 57% were girls of color and 23% of those girls were Black. 

Higher risk of being sex trafficked

However, scant other research has examined the intersectionality of race and gender in the child welfare system. The lack of focus on intersectionality hinders the system’s capacity to adequately address the needs of Black girls. If we are not recognizing their unique experiences, we are perpetuating the narrative that they do not matter and their existence isn’t worth our attention. For a system that has legal custody of children, frighteningly little is known about a substantial portion of those entrusted to it.

Black girls: Macon Stewart (headshot), deputy director for multisystem operations for Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, smiling woman with red mini braids, glasses, earrings, necklace, red top

Macon Stewert

Although little is understood about the prevalence of Black girls in the child welfare system, we can deduce more about their involvement in this system by examining a related topic. What happens to Black girls when they are pushed out of their schools and pulled from their homes? 

Low school connectedness, lack of community stability and child welfare involvement are all factors that contribute to increased risk for childhood sexual exploitation. Because Black girls are distinctly susceptible to school discipline, foster care involvement and adultification, they are easy targets for trafficking predators. Despite the claim that children placed in the child welfare system are there for their protection, 86% of suspected sex trafficking victims were children and youth who were reported missing from child welfare and foster care services in 2016. Black girls represented between a third to more than half of those victims.

Let’s bring back the Black girls who are referred to the juvenile justice system for otherwise adolescent behavior, or in many cases, simply for surviving. Despite being legally unable to consent to sex, Black children and youth (the majority of whom are girls) constituted more than half of juvenile “prostitution” arrests in 2017. 

Once arrested for any charge, Black girls are practically herded into the justice system as evidenced by the fact that they are the fastest-growing population in justice settings. Roughly one-third of all girls who are detained and committed in the justice system are Black even though they only compose a sixth of the population. Black girls are nearly three times more likely to be referred to the juvenile justice system than white girls. Of all girls held in confinement, over 30% are there due to status-related offenses (e.g., running away) and technical violations. The youth behavior underlying many of these cases are often the result of responses to trauma and abuse

We know that the vast majority of girls in the justice system have experienced some form of abuse, neglect and/or complex trauma. Yet rather than addressing their needs holistically and in the community, we push Black girls with personal, familial and historical racial trauma away from their families and into an archaic justice system that relies too heavily on incarceration and punishment.

For more information on Racial-Ethnic Fairness, go to JJIE Resource Hub | Racial-Ethnic Fairness

It is no coincidence that Black girls are ushered out of schools and appear prominently in the child welfare and justice systems. Importantly and deservedly, we honor those lost to our legal systems with #SayHerName — but we must stop waiting for those names to become hashtags and headlines. Let’s stop waiting until it’s too late to extend our compassion to Black girls and women. 

Let’s change the narrative and make it known that their presence matters; that they are valued, loved and seen. In addition to those lost, say the names of those who are here now. Say the names of those who are here so we may bring them back home.

Don’t wait to say her name.


Alexandra Miller, Ph.D., earned a doctorate degree in special education from the University of Virginia. She is a program manager with the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University and oversees multisystems work including the development, implementation and evaluation of the Crossover Youth Practice Model.

Macon Stewart is the deputy director for multisystem operations for the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at the Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. Her portfolio includes the Crossover Youth Practice Model and projects focused on addressing racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system and supporting rural communities to better meet the needs of justice-involved youth.

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Maine Community Development and COVID Resilience Program Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: COVID-19, Community, Community Development, Education, Human Services, Maine
Feb. 15, 2021

“The Community Building Grant Program invests in local projects and organizations that work to build strong communities. It is a grassroots grant program focused on efforts to use, improve and/or increase access to community assets. These community assets include natural and built resources, as well as community members, their views and voices, local leaders, and the relationships or connections among people and organizations across the community.

The Community Building Grant Program is one of the only grant programs in Maine that supports a broad range of projects and organizations across the entire state, including arts, education, environment, economic development, and human services. It is also MaineCF’s largest grant program and receives more than 400 applications annually. For the 2021 grant cycle, the focus will be on building community resilience in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Proposed projects or organizations must:

  • Invest in people by strengthening skills, knowledge, abilities, and/or well-being of community members
  • Maximize community strengths and resources by improving access to or the use of community-based resources, including people, organizations, and built and natural environments
  • Engage community members by involving those people who will benefit in the design, delivery, or evaluation of project activities and goals.

Priority will be given to projects or organizations that support people at higher risk to be negatively impacted by COVID-19.”

Funder: Maine Community Foundation
“Nonprofit, charitable organizations tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the IRC and also classified as an organization described in sections 509(a)(1) or 509(a)(2), municipalities, public schools, public agencies working for the State of Maine, Indian tribal governments (or political subdivisions) recognized by the Department of the Interior. Groups without any tax status may apply a fiscal sponsor that is an eligible organization as described above.”
Amount: Up to $10,000

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U.S. Pacific Islands Marine Environmental Education and Training Project Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Environmental Education, Job/Career Training, Civic Engagement
Feb. 10, 2021

“The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is soliciting competitive applications for the fiscal year 2021 Pacific Islands Region Marine Education and Training (MET) Mini-Grant Program. Projects are being solicited to improve communication, education, and training on marine resource issues throughout the region and increase scientific education for marine-related professions among coastal community residents, including indigenous Pacific islanders, Native Hawaiians, and other underrepresented groups in the region.”

Funder: Department of Commerce
“Eligible applicants are individuals, institutions of higher education, nonprofits, commercial organizations, state, local and Indian tribal governments. Projects must be conducted within Hawaii, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), or American Samoa.”
Up to $15,000

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Environmental Education and Restoration on Public Lands During COVID Support Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Environmental Education, Outdoor Activities, Organizational Support, Youth in Nature
Dec. 1, 2020 | Feb, 1, 2021

“With social distancing regulations in place, people are turning to the outdoors more than ever for exercise and rejuvenation. At the same time, the agencies and organizations responsible for maintaining public lands are hampered by reductions in staff, volunteers, and resources, leaving them ill-equipped to keep up with increased human presence in these delicate ecosystems on top of existing maintenance backlogs. In response, NEEF has established the Restoration & Resilience COVID Recovery Fund to help restore these special places by distributing resources and mobilizing volunteers.

Through this funding, NEEF will sponsor public lands sites in order to:

  • Demonstrate the need for volunteer service to restore public lands that have been impacted by increased use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Engage volunteers in restoration and conservation projects that address the impacts of the pandemic.
  • Contribute to improvement of the sponsored public land sites through community engagement, as evidenced by volunteer participation numbers, types of projects, value of volunteer service, and conservation outputs.”

Funder: The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF)
“Open to nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations, state or federal government agencies, federally recognized tribes and local governments, and educational institutions.”
Amount: Up to $2,500

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Bill Seeks ‘Pandemic Funding’ For 21st Century After-school Programs

NEWS 2020.11.19 Bill Seeks Pandemic Funding For 21st Century After school Programs

21st Century: U.S. Capitol buildingSHERRY V SMITH/SHUTTERSTOCK

As Congress considers a spending bill with behind-the-scenes negotiations this week, many youth-serving organizations hope for an injection of cash into out-of-school time programs to aid hard-pressed youth and families. 

None of the Senate spending bills released Nov. 10 included extra money for after-school programs.

But legislation introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., calls for an additional $1.2 billion for the 21st Century after-school programs that serve students across the nation, particularly in low-income areas. It’s possible the bill could become part of a COVID relief package or an omnibus spending bill, according to Erik Peterson, vice president of policy for the Afterschool Alliance.

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020 (S. 4868) would allow programs to expand to serve more kids. Programs would gain flexibility — including being able to operate during the daytime, not just in the afternoon — to provide a supportive environment when schools are closed and students must learn remotely.

Critically, the bill would make it easier for parents to work during the pandemic, according to the Afterschool Alliance.

As a new coronavirus wave sweeps across the country, remote schooling is unlikely to end. On Wednesday, New York City announced its schools would stop in-person classes until the city’s virus test positivity rate drops back below 3%.

The legislation would “help after-school programs provide in-person and virtual services during the day to fill-in gaps in students’ hybrid or distance learning schedules,” Smith said in a statement.

Early in the pandemic, organizations including the American Youth Policy Forum pointed out the extra burden the pandemic puts on families of limited means. 

When schools closed, students lost access to school meals and classroom technology. Parents lost jobs, putting families under great financial stress. Other parents struggle to hold on to jobs while helping kids navigate online learning. Older kids may be looking after younger kids, and families may lack computers or internet access for online schooling.

Advocates for children are also concerned about an increase in domestic violence and child abuse.

The virus is also disproportionately threatening communities of color.

“The 21st Century Program fills a crucial need for families during these unprecedented times,” said Michele Stockwell, executive director of Bipartisan Policy Center Action, in an email. It will help parents get the child care they need and help children get the consistent academic assistance they need to thrive, she said.

Supporters of the legislation include education groups such as the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the National PTA as well as after-school providers such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the YMCA of the USA.

The legislation would let out-of-school time programs add staff in order to maintain social distancing and help them buy cleaning, sanitization and personal protection equipment supplies. It would require that programs follow pandemic health guidelines and demonstrate their compliance.

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National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Career Opportunity

NCSL POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT – Deadline to apply December 09, 2020, 5p.m. MST

JOB TITLE:                          Program Director      

PROGRAM:                          Children & Families – Economic Security, Housing, Child Support

LOCATION:                          Denver, CO

SALARY:                              $7,082/month


The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is the nation’s preeminent bipartisan membership organization for state legislators, legislative staff and other intergovernmental groups in the 50 states, commonwealths and territories and has been since 1975. NCSL provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues. Our mission is to improve the quality and effectiveness of state legislatures; promote policy innovation and communication among state legislatures; and ensure state legislatures a strong, cohesive voice in the federal system. While NCSL is bipartisan in nature, all NCSL staff work is strictly nonpartisan.


NCSL’s Denver-based Children and Families Program seeks a Program Director with extensive experience managing people and projects in a grant-funded environment. Applicant should have substantial knowledge of one of more of the following policy domains: 1.) family economic security (e.g., Earned Income Tax Credit and other family tax credits, benefits cliffs, barriers to employment, opportunity youth, TANF, SNAP or two-generation strategies), 2.) housing and homelessness, or 3.) child support and family law. This position will be responsible for contributing to a culture of program innovation and excellence, developing and maintaining productive funder relationships, supervising and coaching staff, and ensuring NCSL’s work is completed in an objective and nonpartisan manner. This position reports to the Children and Families group director.

This position typically requires air travel approximately 10 times per year. Most trips are for one to three nights. Due to COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions, no travel is anticipated until August 2021. This date is subject to change.


  1. Organizes, plans, manages and coordinates work across multiple projects, activities and funding streams.
  2. Leads, supports and coaches staff.
  3. Establishes program priorities and plans, develops and manages budgets, allocates resources, and assigns staff to carry out program activities.
  4. Ensures quality standards and contract specifications are met.
  5. Oversees or completes translational research and writing tasks, often involving careful interpretation of political nuances. (This is NOT a scientific research position.)
  6. Manages or coordinates planning of complex meetings, seminars and technical assistance efforts, generally requiring astute political judgments, a high degree of responsiveness to constituents and an understanding of organization priorities and concerns.
  7. Identifies and develops resources to carry out the program’s activities and functions. Oversees fundraising efforts and personally handles the most sensitive negotiations and high-level contacts with potential funding agencies.
  8. Works with other NCSL units and external partners to develop innovative project proposals.
  9. Develops and implements communication strategies for disseminating and raising the visibility of NCSL’s policy products.
  10. Maintains an extensive network of relationships with federal agencies, funders, private-sector partners and interest groups.
  11. Performs other responsibilities as needed.


This position has direct supervisory responsibilities of approximately 3 staff members.


This position is a mostly performed in an office environment with prolonged periods of sitting at a desk and working on a computer. Must be able to lift small objects up to 20lbs. You will be required to utilize standard office equipment such as filing cabinets, copy machines, scanners, and smartphones. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.


Please note this job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job. Duties, responsibilities and activities may change at any time with or without notice. 


Experience and Education 

Bachelor’s degree plus nine years of relevant and progressive work experience OR post-baccalaureate / graduate degree and eight years of experience.

Experience working for public affairs or communications firms or civic engagement organizations, coupled with a human services policy background, a plus.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities 

  • Substantial knowledge of one of more of the following policy domains: 1.) family economic security, 2.) housing and homelessness, or 3.) child support and family law.
  • Excellence in developing and executing educational/informational products and services for adult learners (i.e., legislators, legislative staff and others).
  • Substantial knowledge of state lawmaking processes and government structures.
  • Exceptional writing and editing skills.
  • Ability to clearly and credibly present information to NCSL members, funders and other audiences.
  • Ability to work in a politically neutral manner with legislators and legislative staff and maintain confidentiality when required.
  • Excellence in staff supervision and development (i.e. delegating, supervising, evaluating work and coaching).
  • Excellence in fundraising, primarily through philanthropic organizations and federal contracts.
  • Ability to manage multiple projects (including budgets) in a fast-paced office environment.


NCSL offers an outstanding benefits package including low cost health, dental and vision coverage, a 401(a)-retirement plan with 10% contribution after 6 months and full vesting, life & disability insurance, 3-weeks paid vacation with 5+ years of paid full-time work experience, paid leave, telework, pet insurance, discounted bus / train passes, in-office dry cleaning pick up, access to 24-hour fitness memberships, and more!


Interested candidates should send a cover letter and resume highlighting skills and qualifications no later than Wednesday, December 9, 2020 by 5pm MST.  

Link to apply:


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2020 Children’s Mental Health Report: Telehealth in an Increasingly Virtual World

See Full Report

Author(s): Child Mind Institute

  • Katherine Martinelli
  • Yakira Cohen
  • Harry Kimball, Child Mind Institute
  • Hannah Sheldon-Dean, Child Mind Institute

Published: Nov. 18, 2020

Report Intro/Brief:
“The coronavirus pandemic has been hard on kids and teens everywhere — especially those who were already dealing with mental health challenges. Telehealth (which uses technology to deliver healthcare remotely) has emerged as a promising treatment option for children’s mental health.

In this 2020 Children’s Mental Health Report, we look at the recent research on telehealth and address key questions including:

  • How does telehealth work?
  • Which children’s mental health services can be delivered via telehealth?
  • How effective is telehealth?
  • Who benefits from telehealth?
  • How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted telehealth?
  • What are patients’ and practitioners’ attitudes toward telehealth?
  • What are the challenges of expanding telehealth access going forward?

Plus, we’ve got perspectives from a new Child Mind Institute/Ipsos survey on parents’ experiences using telehealth for their children’s mental health treatment. Conducted in September 2020 with a representative sample of 351 American parents, this survey offers unique insights into the rapidly changing landscape of telehealth for children’s mental health.

Findings from the survey include:

  • Declining well-being: More than two thirds of parents who sought help since the start of the pandemic said they had witnessed a decline in their child’s emotional well-being (72%), behavior (68%), and physical health due to decreased activities/exercise (68%).
  • Anxiety and depression are most common: Anxiety (40%) and depression (37%) are the most common mental health challenges leading parents to seek telehealth services for their child. Seeking help for problem behavior (30%), ADHD (30%) or learning challenges (23%) was also common.
  • A variety of treatments: Talk therapy (49%) is the most common service parents have accessed or sought out through telehealth for their child, though a third of parents who have used/tried to use telehealth since the start of the pandemic also report accessing/seeking out psychiatric medication consultation (32%) and/or cognitive behavioral therapy (31%).
  • Parent satisfaction: Parents in the survey who have used telehealth services for children report strongly positive responses. 86% said their child had benefited, 84% said it had been a positive experience for their child, 78% said they had seen significant improvement in their child, and 87% said they would recommend it to others.”

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More After-school Suppers Are Key Support For Food-insecure Households, Report Says

NEWS 2020.11.18 Simonton More After school Suppers Are Key

food insecurity: A row of brown bags against a blackboard; one green apple, one red apple in front.TIM MASTERS/SHUTTERSTOCK

More kids in after-school programs are getting an evening meal through the program, according to a recent report from Food Research & Action Center (FRAC).

An additional 86,900 children received supper through the federal Afterschool Meals Program in October 2019 compared with October in the previous year — a 6.5% increase — according to FRAC, a nonprofit devoted to ending poverty-related hunger and undernutrition.

Altogether, 1.4 million children were served in the program on an average day in October 2019.

“It’s an important opportunity for kids to get all the nutrition they need,” said Crystal FitzSimons, director of school and out-of-school time programs at FRAC.

Other organizations concerned about household food insecurity are also pleased by the increase. 

Groups such as Share Our Strength, which operates the No Child Hungry campaign, say one of the best ways to help children whose families are food insecure is to increase participation in federal nutrition programs.

But many states are leaving money on the table by not taking advantage of these programs, FitzSimons said. For example, in Mississippi only 1.3% of the children who got school-day meals through the National School Lunch Program were served by the Afterschool Meal Program, according to the report.

Particularly in the pandemic, FRAC is urging an increase in after-school program funding in low-income communities, not only to provide educational and enrichment activities to children, but also to relieve food stress on households.

“A meals program goes hand-in-hand with after-school programs,” FitzSimons said. Food helps draw children to programs that provide them the supplementary education and enrichment they need, she said. And when children are in an after-school program from 3 p.m. until the evening, “they’re going to be hungry,” she said.

After-school programs have made dramatic shifts to fill the gap as schools closed in the pandemic and students no longer received breakfasts and lunch at school. Programs gained federal waivers allowing them to provide food through the Afterschool Meals Program at other times of day and through pick-up and delivery.

Prior to the pandemic, one-tenth of American households (13.7 million households) were considered food-insecure, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That means they reported they were not able to get adequate food at some time during the year because they didn’t have enough money. 

This group includes the 4.1% of households that were very food insecure, meaning they experienced disrupted eating patterns and lower food intake at some point because they couldn’t afford enough food.

But the pandemic has significantly increased the problem, possibly doubling the number of food-insecure households but tripling among households with children, according to researchers at Northwestern University.

School closures and the loss of school breakfasts and lunches may have led to the higher impact on families with children.

As the pandemic continues, FRAC calls for continued efforts to provide after-school snacks and suppers to children through the collaboration of state agencies with after-school, anti-hunger and child advocates.

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To Help Suicide Risks, Autistic Youth, We Need Better Laws, Police Training

OPINION 2020.11.16 To Help Suicide Risks Autistic Youth

suicide: Youth sitting on floor next to curtain, head on kneesFERNANDO/UNSPLASH

Firearm sales have increased exponentially during COVID-19. More guns in the home increase the risk of youth access to firearms. In Michigan alone, a suicide occurs every 13 hours, and access to firearms increases the likelihood of suicide completion by 85%. Unintentional shooting deaths by children increased by 30% nationally March through May of 2020 compared to the same time period averages for 2018 and 2019. 

As a psychiatric nurse practitioner this raises grave concerns for mental health and the public health crisis of gun violence. Locally in Washtenaw County, Michigan, I am a survivor fellow with Everytown for Gun Safety working with the local chapter of Moms Demand Action to get out voter information about gun sense candidates who are willing to work toward common-sense gun laws such as red flag laws, which temporarily remove firearms from individuals in crisis, and background checks for all weapons. 

After losing my son Jonah to firearm suicide in 2016, I speak with groups (temporarily online) about why safe storage bills, such as Ethan’s Law in Connecticut, are crucial in the fight against teen suicide. In a world where teens are more isolated and having to manage multiple stressors that are new to all of us, in homes that are increasingly saturated with guns, we have an escalation of the public health crisis of suicide as teenage suicides rise nationally. In a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey in June of this year, one in four 18- to 24-year-olds had contemplated suicide in the last 30 days. 

suicide: Gwendolyn La Croix (headshot), psychiatric nurse practitioner, smiling woman with short red curly hair, dark parka

Gwendolyn La Croix

I am currently gathering information in talking with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department and local community activists — both to get out information on safe storage and also to try to build a gun violence intervention program. An example of such programs is outreach in local hospitals to those who have been victims of gun violence, to break the perpetuation of these crimes that can snowball through misinformation.

Listening to the reports of the Oct. 26 shooting death of Wallace Walter Jr. in Philadelphia took me back to the night my African-American son killed himself, when I was afraid to call the police in our predominantly white rural area because my bipolar child had found a knife and had accidentally hurt me with it when I was trying to de-escalate the situation. Instead, I left him alone while I got stitches at the local hospital.

He had access to the gun my ex-husband, unbeknownst to me, had left in a drawer in the hallway closet, and he killed himself one month after his 17th birthday. My future discussions with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s department will include necessary education for our local police forces about mental health emergencies. 

Defunding the police has been twisted to suggest that we do not care about the safety of our communities. We want more funding, instead, for mental health interventions, de-escalation and social services in our communities, so that we have faith when we call the police that guns being drawn is not the first step in talking to our community members.

For more information on mental health, go to JJIE Resource Hub | Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

In my job as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, I frequently speak to parents who are worried about their autistic children as they age: not being understood by peace officers who misinterpret their behavior as refusing to follow directions and being aggressive, instead of the autistic behavior profile of difficulty receiving social cues; and being overwhelmed by new information into actions that may seem aggressive to the untrained. 

We all have a role in this country to make our communities safer and more tolerant. The Constitution was made at a time when citizens had to be armed in order to repel British colonialism. The founding fathers could not have foreseen school shootings or the social situations we find ourselves in in the 21st century. 

As Thomas Jefferson wrote: “I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and Constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.” 

Gwendolyn La Croix is a psychiatric nurse practitioner who practices in Monroe County, Michigan, and has been in mental health care for nine years, currently teaching part-time through Wayne State University. She is a survivor fellow with Everytown for Gun Safety, and the city gun violence lead in the Washtenaw chapter of Moms Demand Action.

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Fay Twersky Named President of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation

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Fay Twersky headshot; woman with brown, short hair smiling outdoorsWILLIAM AND FLORA HEWLETT FOUNDATION

The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation recently named Fay Twersky as its new president.

Twersky arrives from the California-based William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (HF), where she has served as vice president for about a year and a half. With HF for more than nine years, however, she began as a senior fellow and then worked as director of its Effective Philanthropy Group for six and half years.

A true veteran of the philanthropic sector, Twersky worked as a senior advisor and interim chief program officer at the Rothschild Foundation as well as director of Impact Planning & Improvement at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Earlier in her career she helped co-found the consulting firm, Informing Change, which seeks to help nonprofits and communities in need use data and strategic learning to affect real change for their beneficiaries.

Twersky, a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has also expanded the impact of her career by putting herself in decision-making positions at various organizations. She currently serves on the boards of the Center for Effective Philanthropy and the Van Leer Group, while concluding a nearly eight-year stint on the board of the UBS Optimus Foundation in July.

“Fay is a values-driven, thoughtful leader with exceptional experience that aligns perfectly with our bold vision for the future of our work,” said Arthur M. Blank, Chairman of the foundation, in a press release about the appointment. “She adds unique skills and a strategic approach that will help us leverage and connect the assets of the Blank Family of Businesses to drive even deeper, more meaningful impact through our Family Foundation.”

Fay Twersky, making the cross-country move from California to Atlanta, officially begins her new role as president of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation on February 15, 2021. She succeeds 17-year president Penelope McPhee who, in March, announced her intention to retire by the end of the year.

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Global Network Of Youth Reporters Create Program To Counter Racial, Ethnic Hatred

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Team Harmony: Screenshot of young people, one in hijab, on Zoom call.


Youth reporters from 36 countries are taking part in the web series “Hate: What are YOU Going to DO.”

More than 100 youth reporters from around the world are working with producers in the United States on a video series examining racial and ethnic hatred and what young people can do about it.

The second episode of “Hate: What are YOU Going to DO” airs online on Nov. 24. It will examine how music and art can carry important messages against hate. Guests will include spoken word poet and activist Brandon Leake, who is also a winner of the “America’s Got Talent contest,” and rappers Big Sean and T.I. Four more 45-minute programs will air monthly.

The first episode, launched Oct. 20, features three young hosts interviewing Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League, Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley of  Massachusetts and former white supremacist leader Christian Picciolini.

Picciolini talked about ways to counter white supremacist violence, which has been rising in the U.S. in recent years, based on reports from the U.S. State Department and data from the FBI.

Sana, a youth reporter in Austria, talked with young Austrians who have foreign backgrounds. A young black Muslim woman said she was discriminated against for wearing hijab. Others said their race and ethnicity made it harder for them to get jobs. 

The organizer of a Black Lives Matter rally in Vienna described the outpouring of energy at the event.

The show also presented “person on the street interviews” ranging from Morocco to Colorado.

“It’s about young people getting out in front on the issues and showing what their peers are doing,” said Rick Rendon, senior partner of the Rendon Group, a communications company producing the series in conjunction with Emerson College and the Team Harmony Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to educate, inspire and engage youth to combat hate.

Toolkit and activist training

Emerson College and Team Harmony are also creating a toolkit for activists and an online course called the Virtual Institute for Activism.

The toolkit is for middle and high school students as well as youth workers and teachers. It encourages self-reflection and education on the issues, then empathy and good listening skills. Team Harmony created the toolkit with input from its coalition of groups, which range from Atlanta Public Schools to the Boston Globe to the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

The Virtual Institute for Activism will launch on Jan. 16, Rendon said. It will teach peaceful advocacy by giving young people the background and the skills to engage in difficult conversations and raise awareness. Courses include “Using Social Media for Social Good,” “The Art of Organizing” and “Influencing the Influencer.” An inaugural class of 200 young people is planned.

The series name was inspired by a public letter of the same title written by the president of Emerson College, Lee Pelton,  after the death of George Floyd.

To gather young reporters for the series, Emerson College made use of its network of colleges around the world, worked with U.S. embassies and put out a call on social media, Rendon said. Alumni of the Rendon Group’s Women2Women international leadership program also reached out to youth.

The Team Harmony website is still taking applications for paid youth reporters who can commit to being involved over a seven-month period.

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